Talks continue between star center Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs in hopes of coming to terms on an extension in the near future. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Matthews’ agent, Judd Moldaver, is expected in Toronto this week to continue negotiations. LeBrun feels that there is still a gap between the two sides, but momentum is pushing them in the right direction. As previously noted, Matthews is not seeking a maximum eight-year term, but rather a five- or six-year extension is his preference, which LeBrun reinforces. Matthews, 21, has 45 points through 36 games this season and is tied for ninth in the NHL with Sidney Crosby in points per game. Since his debut three years ago, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick, Matthews has recorded 177 points in 180 games, among the 20 best scorers in the NHL. That combination of youth and production at center is as rare as they come and Matthews is likely seeking a contract that will meet or exceed in AAV that of new teammate John Tavares, who signed with the Maple Leafs for $11MM per year this summer. Such high-stakes negotiations usually do not come together quickly, so this is likely just another step in a long process for both sides.
- Veteran forward Daniel Winnik was unable to secure an NHL contract this off-season, but now finds himself as a priority free agent in Switzerland. Winnik ended up signing with Geneve-Servette of the NLA back in October and has been highly productive for the Swiss squad, notching 23 points in 31 games thus far. According to the Swiss Hockey News, head coach Chris McSorely is desperate to bring Winnik back next season and the experienced journeyman is open to an extension. Winnik, who played for the Minnesota Wild last season and joined the Boston Bruins on a PTO this fall, may have slight NHL interest in the off-season, but the 33-year-old is likely better off sticking in the NLA. With Geneve-Servette, not only has Winnik scored more easily than at any point in his eleven NHL seasons, but McSorely also calls him “a real leader and a positive voice in the locker room”.
- A strong season for the Bowling Green State University Falcons has helped them to net another elite prospect for their program. Bowling Green, ranked No. 12 in the NCAA in the latest Pairwise polls, has received a commitment from 2019 NHL Draft hopeful Keighan Gerrie, per the Superior International Junior Hockey League. Gerrie is currently tearing up the SIJHL with 62 points in 34 games, among the top five scorers in the league and is far and away it’s best U-18 player. Gerrie is currently slated to play in the NAHL next year, but if he continues at nearly a two points-per-game pace this season, he will likely wind up in the USHL instead before joining Bowling Green. As for the NHL, Central Scouting ranked Gerrie at No. 140 among U.S. skaters in their latest rankings, but as his stock continues to rise, he could push to be a fourth- or fifth-round selection, which could make him the Falcons’ top prospect when he finally arrives. Junior goaltender Ryan Bednard, a 2015 seventh-rounder of the Florida Panthers, has been excellent this season but will be gone by the time Gerrie arrives. Sophomore forward and leading scorer Brandon Kruse, a fifth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights this past year, could still be on campus to form a dynamic duo with Gerrie in two years, but may have already turned pro by that time. Gerrie could be Bowling Green’s best hope of remaining among the top programs in college hockey moving forward.